Ralph W. Hood, Jr. (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga)

Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Ph.D., University of Nevada at Reno, 1968. He has taught at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga since 1970.

Hood was a founding Editor and is currently Co-editor of the International "Journal for the Psychology of Religion" and, beginning in 1995, Editor of the "Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion". He is a coauthor of The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach (with Bernard Spilka and Richard Gorsuch, Prentice Hall 1988), a popular psychology of religion textbook, and Editor of the Handbook of Religious Experience (Religious Education Press 1994), a major volume pertaining to this topic. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, past President of the Division on Psychology of Religion of the American Psychological Association, and recipient of its William James Award.

Hood's (1975) mystical experience scale is the most widely used measure in the field. The scale has allowed Hood to analyze mysticism in relation to a variety of domains such as church participation, self-actualization, nature experiences, personality correlates, gender, knowledge and experience criteria, death, the paranormal, the psychology of religion, the Freudian critique of religion, and the self.

Hood and Morris (1983) devised scales to measure five cognitive modes of death transcendence (creative, nature, biosocial, religious, and mysticism), the use of which provided the foundation for a preliminary theory of death transcendence. Their orientation opposes "denial" theories.

Much of Hood's work deals with intrinsic-extrinsic (I-E) religious orientations, as hypothesized by Gordon Allport, who argued that extrinsically motivated people use their religion as a means to gain security, solace, sociability, distraction, status, and self-justification. Those with intrinsic religiosity use their faith as an ultimate end in itself, a motive for living more important than other concerns. The intrinsically motivated people internalize their religion, following it more fully. C. Daniel Batson added a quest dimension to this scheme, attempting to increase its explanatory power. Hood (1985) elicited reports of mystical experiences from intrinsic and extrinsic participants in a wide variety of contexts and noted that the indiscriminately pro-religious type is likely to be sensitive to normative pressures to appear appropriately religious. In an example of more recent research, Hood et al. (1990) subjected subjects to an isolation tank experience under religious and nonreligious conditions. As predicted, indiscriminately pro-religious participants used religious interpretations under the religious set conditions, and intrinsic types used religious interpretations to a greater degree than did extrinsic types. The findings support Allport's contention that truly intrinsic persons live their religion, while indiscriminately pro-religious people are more likely to report religious experiences only in contexts cued as "religious."

Although they have contributed much to the understanding of intrinsic-extrinsic religious orientation, Kirkpatrick and Hood (1990) argue that research in this tradition suffers from serious limitations. They provide a variety of theoretical and methodological criticisms of contemporary I-E research and appear uncertain whether the I-E paradigm is a "boon or bane" for the contemporary psychology of religion. They argue that much work in this domain is theoretically impoverished, teaching very little about the psychology of religion.

[James McClenon, from: Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, ed. William H. Swatos, Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary (http://hirr.hartsem.edu/ency/Hood.htm)]